Chainsaw Man is potentially the biggest anime series to drop in recent years. Hot on the tails of Demon Slayer that brought a whole new segment of people to the world of anime, Chainsaw Man is an adaptation of a wildly popular manga series that introduced us to a dark and sinister world of devils and the people that fight back against them.
Developed by MAPPA, the world-renowned animation studio behind cult series such as Attack on Titan, Jujutsu Kaisen, and Evangelion: 0 01 Thrice Upon a Time, among many other hits, Chainsaw Man brings the world of anime to life in stunning detail, capturing everything from the comical to the deeply disturbing in startling detail. Known for their gorgeous animation, it was expected that MAPPA would be a great choice to bring the story to the world of anime, but their use of CGI, hand-drawn animation, and unique take on the subject matter ensures that the series is faithful to the manga and brings something entirely new to the Chainsaw Man universe.
The story follows a 16-year-old orphan named Denji, who is in debt to the Yakuza for his late father’s debts. Living in poverty and streetwise, Denji survives by killing a variety of grotesque devils for the mob with his sidekick, the demonic dog Pochita. Though his life is hard, Denji finds a unique joy in the little things in life, making do with what little he has. Until a betrayal costs him his life, and Pochita sacrifices herself to give him one last chance at life. Through their blood pact, Pochita becomes a part of Denji, who then becomes a devil-human hybrid known as the Chainsaw Man, an entity made up of both devils and human.
The beautiful and manipulative Makima, a high-ranking Public Security Devil Hunter, recruits Denji to also, well, hunt devils, although he has technically become a devil himself. There are many different types of devils that the characters encounter in this dark version of Earth. There are war devils, zombie devils, gun devils, future devils, octopus devils, doll devils, gun devils—basically, if you can think of it, there is probably a devil manifesting and using that power.
There is no doubt that Chainsaw Man is a show packed with gore and guts, a horror-inspired world with intricate lore, and action sequences to die for, but what makes the series truly special is its ability to embrace the downtime and silence to gain a true understanding of the world and the characters within it.
The show walks a fine line between drama, action and comedy, all of which play off each other to build scenes and give a sense of the multifaceted characters we come to love. The way MAPPA captures moments of tragedy, comfort and horror while knowing when to throw in childish antics is what makes the show so engaging and memorable.
There is a scene in the middle of the series in a hospital where many have recently suffered a loss, but the way the action lingers on the faces and the scenes are given time to breathe, giving you and the characters time to take in the moment and embrace their tragedy, takes what could be throwaway moments and elevates them into something special.
It is a testament to the masterful balance of trashy and artful tones that this show achieves something greater than the sum of its parts. Moving from raunchy or comedic scenes of Denji and Power playing games or bickering to action and back to the sombre silence that makes the world Tatsuki Fujimoto has created feel lived in, real and powerful.
Where many shows linger on sex comedy or quiet silence, few can find the balance to make it feel human and act as a release from the constant brutality of the Chainsaw Man universe. While the comedy and action scenes are fun and look stunning, beneath the surface, the weight and impact of death and description always hang over the characters, where their next fight may be their last
“Chainsaw Man uses movement and camera angles to full effect, not only bringing the drawings of the manga to life but making them feel weighty and devastating, with every cut and brutal punch earth-shattering in its visceral impact.”
Despite its depth and complexity, Chainsaw Man is very much an action anime, and MAPPA delivers on that front, creating one of the most outrageous and dynamic action anime on television today. Going beyond the typical punch-fest of most anime, Chainsaw Man uses movement and camera angles to full effect, not only bringing the drawings of the manga to life but making them feel weighty and devastating, with every cut and brutal punch earth-shattering in its visceral impact.
Even with these amazing fight scenes, Chainsaw Man knows how to strike a balance, and where many anime would drag a fight out over many episodes (I’m looking at you, Dragon Ball), this is a show that knows how to only ever give a taste, so that you never get bored or complacent with what you are watching.
A fantastic adaptation of Chainsaw Man that not only does justice to the manga of the past few years but also actively adds to it with its cinematic-inspired visuals that make this world of absurdity, gory, dumbness, and comedy feel incredibly relatable and real. This is a series of television that we all hope to see, a show that takes one of the most popular mangas of the last few years and builds upon it to make something truly special.